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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The so-called South African variant has turned up in Minnesota.

The State Health Department today announced Minnesota's first confirmed COVID-19 infection involving the B.1.351 variant. The person infected is in their 40s and lives in the Twin Cities area and did not require hospitalization. Officials say the individual did not have any recent travel history but indicated there may have been exposure to someone who had traveled internationally.

“The virus continues to mutate as all viruses do,” Malcolm said. “That’s yet another reason why we want to limit COVID-19 transmission – the fewer people who get COVID-19, the fewer opportunities the virus has to mutate. The good news is that we can slow that process by wearing masks, keeping social distance, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.”

State health officials received confirmation of the variant this week but the individual actually tested positive for COVID-19 in late January. They say the situation is being monitored closely because the specimen has an additional mutation that may make the virus less responsive to the immunity response offered by COVID-19 vaccines.

There have been about 90 other cases of the South African variant in 21 other states. While it is thought to be more contagious than the initial COVID-19 strain it is not yet known if it causes a more severe illness.

News Update: Mayo Clinic Study - Vaccines Greatly Reduce Risk of COVID Spread

Major Milestones From Beginning of COVID-19 Pandemic in Olmsted County, Minnesota

News and information about the virus were slowly making their way through Minnesota and the Rochester area during late February 2020. Mayo Clinic became aware of the virus in January because of a partnership it had with a Chinese firm. This gave Mayo a head start in developing its own test for the virus which it knew would be needed for its patients.

Scroll through the gallery to see the significant milestones from the first two months of the pandemic in Olmsted County, Minnesota.

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